An Die Geliebte = BEETHOVEN: An die ferne Geliebte (To the distant beloved), Op. 98; Resignation, WoO 149; STRAUSS, R: Mädchenblumen (4 songs), Op. 22; WEBER: Die Temperamente bei dem Verluste der Geliebten; WOLF: Mörike-Lieder – Julian Pregardien, tenor/ Christoph Schnackertz, p. – Myrios multichannel SACD MYR012, 60:10 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:
Yes, this is the son of tenor Christoph Pregardien, and he is 30 years old and being proclaimed “one to watch” by magazines like Gramophone. I disagree—why not just enjoy what he is doing now, especially on this first solo outing. Here the concentration is suitable for a young man, a collection of “romantic” Romantic-period songs. Included is Beethoven’s only cycle, To the Distant Beloved, which uses the piano as connecting tissue between the songs, and employs music in the beginning and end to summarize the thematic content of the piece. Weber’s the Four Temperaments Upon the Loss of the Beloved makes use of a theme and variations based on the concept of four temperaments, the medieval theory concerning medicine. This was a “staged” piece that evoked the loves that were lost.
Fast forward from these early gems to the fully mature music of Wolf and Strauss, and the lieder is fully established and embraced by almost every important composer. Both Girl Flowers and these selections from the 53 Morike Lieder (a country parson who died in 1875 and remained virtually unknown in his time) suggest the influence of love on these now out of the salon and into the concert hall works that scandalized some composers—like Wolf himself—who thought the medium should remain one of intimate communication instead of mass projection to hundreds of people at a time. Nevertheless, success came easily to Strauss, who milked the form for all it was worth, and Wolf couldn’t complain much about it either, as his success was far more limited and the practical advantages outweighed any philosophical concerns about it.
Pregardien has a lighter voice than his father, almost troubadour-like, and I have certainly heard these songs put forth by much more powerful and assertive voices. But there is something about the unaffected way he presents the material that does hearken back to the early and perhaps purer days of the form when a salon was the best way to catch all the nuances and even facial expressions of the artist. It’s effortless and artless conceit is one to easily adjust to, and makes for a fine hour of the varied spectrum of German lied. The surround sound is excellent, with both partners captured well.